McDonalds’ tests the use of fresh beef, not frozen patties

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McDonald's product is pictured in a restaurant in Washington, July 23, 2010.
McDonald's product is pictured in a restaurant in Washington, July 23, 2010. Reuters/Molly Riley

McDonalds is reportedly testing the usage of fresh beef instead of frozen patties. Per the local Dallas/Fort Worth McDonald's website, the fast food chain is using 100 percent pure and fresh beef patties from North America for its “Quarter Pounder" burgers.

The beef to be used for “Quarter Pounder" burgers are cooked only when ordered. McDonalds had allegedly expanded its pilot program of fresh-never-frozen beef and will cater to 328 North Texas restaurants. Fourteen restaurants in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and 75 restaurants in Oklahoma already follow the program.

The use of fresh beef is expected to result to improvement in taste and quality of burger and boost the image of the company as it continues to reinvent itself. However, some McDonald's' franchisees do not seem to agree with the idea, calling it a "food-safety disaster waiting to happen,” per the Business Insider. A recent Nomura poll shows that two dozen franchisees foresee that the introduction of fresh beef patties nationwide may result to slower service and cause the chain to be at risk of food contamination.

"I have major concerns over food safety and our lack of ability to serve a large number of customers quickly,” one McDonald franchisee wrote. Another expressed concern that if the meat is not handled well, bacterial invasion is likely to take place.

One operator cited the case of E coli outbreak that affected 14 Chipotle restaurants across the US, sending the restaurant’s sales plunging by as much as 30 percent. “Chipotle will be a walk in the park if we have an incident,” the operator said.

With the fresh-never-frozen beef program, there is a risk that an uncaring employee does something that may harm the reputation of the chain. McDonald's relied on an extensive network of suppliers who make, freeze, and ship beef patties to over 14,000 restaurants in the country for the longest time. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), uncooked meat kept at a temperature above 40 degree Fahrenheit has a higher potential for foodborne diseases.

Several McDonald's franchisees have also acknowledged that fresh beef would be good for the company’s image.”Faster cook times, juicier product, seared product versus stewed meat," one franchisee wrote. Another operator said several customers see fresh to be better than frozen, which is an important thing to consider because “perception is everything.” The Nomura poll was participated by 27 domestic franchisees with roughly 199 stores, representing a small fraction of McDonald's 14,000 stores in the country.

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